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Eastern Christianity Portal
The Way of a Pilgrim is the English title of a 19th century anonymous Russian work, detailing the narrator's journey across the country while discovering practicing the Jesus Prayer devoutly, with the help of a prayer rope, and studying the Philokalia. The Russian original, or a copy of it, was present at a Mount Athos monastery in Greece in the 19th century, and was first published in Kazan in 1884. The Russian title of the book is actually much longer than its English translation: "Откровенные рассказы странника духовному своему отцу" - literally, "Candid narratives of a pilgrim to his spiritual father." Whether the narrative is a literal autobiographical narrative, or alternatively is fictitious, metaphorical, or pedagogical, is not known with certainty.
The most widely used English edition was translated by Reginald Michael (R. M.) French (b. 1884), and first published in 1931. In his Translator's Note, French wrote of the pilgrim that "everyone will appreciate the sincerity of his conviction and few probably will doubt the reality of his experience" (p. xi).  French wrote that the events described in the book "appear to belong to a Russia prior to the liberation of the serfs [in] 1861" (pp. xi-xii). French also observed that the Pilgrim's narrative mentions the Crimean War, which began in 1853. Therefore, it was "between those two dates," 1853 and 1861, that the Pilgrim arrived at Irkutsk and found a spiritual father, two of the major events in the Pilgrim's narrative (p. xii).
Some have suggested the book as a whole appears to be an allegory to both the life of Jesus, and the struggle of Orthodox Christianity. It details the gradual spiritual development and struggles of the narrator, and the effect the narrator's spirituality has on those around him (to quote the spiritual father Saint Seraphim of Sarov, "Acquire the spirit of peace, and a thousand souls around you will be saved").
The book is first in a series of two documents. The sequel is entitled The Pilgrim Continues his Way. Translations of both documents were published together in the most widely known English editions.
- The Way of a Pilgrim: and The Pilgrim Continues His Way (1954) R. M. French (translator), Huston Smith (introduction), Harper SanFrancisco 1991 reprint: ISBN 0-06-063017-5
- The Way of a Pilgrim, and The Pilgrim Continues His Way (1978) Helen Bacovcin (translator), Walter Ciszek (foreword), Image Doubleday 1985 reprint: ISBN 0-385-46814-8
- The Way of a Pilgrim and A Pilgrim Continues His Way (1991) Olga Savin (translator), Thomas Hopko (foreword), Shambhala 2001 reprint: ISBN 1-57062-807-6
- The Pilgrim's Tale (1999) edited and with an introduction by Aleksei Pentkovsky, T. Allan Smith (translator), Jaroslav Pelikan (preface), Paulist Press, ISBN 0-8091-3709-7
- The Way of a Pilgrim (2001) abridged translation and annotation on facing pages by Gleb Pokrovsky, Skylight Paths, ISBN 1-893361-31-4
- The Way of a Pilgrim: And the Pilgrim Continues His Way (Translated by Helen Bacovcin), Doubleday, 1985. ISBN 978-0-385-46814-5
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 Reginald Michael French (1954/1991). Translator's Note (pp. xi-xiii). In Anonymous (1884/1991). The way of a pilgrim; and the pilgrim continues his way. San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco. (1991 reprint of 1954 2nd edition: ISBN 0060630175) (NB: see p. xi for literal English translation of Russian title; "Of the pilgrim's identity nothing is known. In some way his manuscript, or a copy of it, came into the hands of a monk on Mount Athos, in whose possession it was found by the abbot of St. Michael's Monastery at Kazan. The abbot copied the manuscript, and from his copy the book was printed at Kazan in 1884," p. xii)
- ↑ Anonymous (1884/1991). The way of a pilgrim; and the pilgrim continues his way (R. M. French, trans.). San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco. (original English edition, 1931) (1991 reprint of 1954 2nd edition: ISBN 0060630175)